Refurbishing Self-Storage to Maintain Market Leadership: A Virginia Facility Shares Its Tale
Copyright 2014 by Virgo Publishing.
By: Terry Campbell
Posted on: 05/21/2010



 

When Thomas Shields Sr. observed the existing self-storage market in the Waynesboro, Va., area in 1975, he liked what he saw. There were no serious competitors. In fact, he would be the first developer of this new concept not only in Augusta County, but the surrounding region.

It was a time when the “mini-warehouse” or “mini-storage” industry was in its infancy, and the public didn’t know much about this type of business. “Self-storage,” as it came to be known, had a low profile. Building construction was utilitarian at best with no frills and, more often than not, facilities were relegated to industrial-zoned land.

Shields, whose primary business was construction and home-building, predicted self-storage was going to be a growing business with considerable potential. He believed that if he built new, freshly painted, sparkling-clean storage buildings―and marketed the concept and priced the space properly―he would attract local residents and small businesses to his site for their storage needs. He was right.

His first facility, Shields Self Storage on Bayard Boulevard, was the beginning of what would become a thriving business including seven facilities and three offices, serving Waynesboro and the immediate surrounding areas. Today, the Bayard location consists of six buildings—five two-story structures and a single-story. As demand grew, the facility expanded in phases over a period of three to four years.

The Need for Renovation

Two years ago, Shields’ son Todd developed a plan and budget to rebrand the family business, update all computer and management systems, install state-of-the-art security, design and develop a new main office, and perform a renovation and other site improvements for all of the company’s locations. The ultimate goal was to continue the business’ reputation as the premier self-storage operator in the area and maintain the highly prized title of “Best Storage Facilities” bestowed annually by a local publication.

Todd asked his longtime friend and colleague Wes Folger to serve as project manager for the endeavor. Once the plans were finalized, they set about to renovate, upgrade and rebrand all seven storage sites, and with good reason: The self-storage market was becoming more competitive, and they wanted to secure the company’s leadership role in the community.

Renovation of the Bayard location was the first priority. Even though the buildings were properly maintained and repaired over the years, normal wear and tear caught up to it after 35 years of service. It meant not only renovating the buildings, but making sure the latest ancillary products and services were available to tenants.

When it came to refurbishing the buildings, Shields and Folger wanted a turnkey job to simplify the process as much as possible. They wanted one company to be responsible for the scope of work and avoid dealing with several suppliers. They felt it was important to find a single manufacturer that could provide all necessary components and services as well as an experienced construction crew. They chose a company with the right credentials and got to work.

Renovation Begins

The Bayard restoration began in fall 2009 and was completed in February of this year. During the process, Virginia was hit with some of the worst winter weather on record. Snowstorms and freezing temperatures interrupted the work and caused delays.

The building exteriors were among the first items to be upgraded. Because the original veneer was primarily a wood composite, it had deteriorated to the point of needing replacement. New metal siding was put on all buildings, and new gutters and downspouts were installed. The building manufacturer also converted a second phase of a large warehouse to climate-controlled storage space.

 
New gutters were installed to combat damage from weather.

In addition to the building renovations, Shields and Folger tackled other necessary improvements. Since the Bayard facility is an unmanned site, they installed a centralized security system with cameras to cover exterior areas and inside hallways, and a security gate and keypad to control ingress and egress. They added exterior and interior lighting, built a two-story fire escape and stairwell, and positioned new bollards. As a part of the company’s new branding, they put up a new exterior sign with a fresh logo. Attractive landscaping topped off the facility’s fresh appearance.

 
During the restoration of Shields Self Storage, new metal siding was added to all buildings.

The owners of Shield Self Storage recognize that ours is a business in which curb appeal counts, and an unattractive, out-of-date site can adversely impact occupancy. They hope the refurbishing of the company’s facilities will secure its reputation as the leading self-storage operator in their community.

Terry Campbell is vice president of sales and marketing for BETCO Inc., a single-source manufacturer of metal buildings, doors and hallway systems. To reach him, call 800.654.7813; visit www.betcoinc.com.

Related Articles:

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The Impact of Facility Image: Self-Storage Curb Appeal and Refurbishing

A Self-Storage Cinderella Story : A 25-year-old property uses cash flow to renovate and increase income